About the Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is one of Edinburgh’s most remarkable buildings – a great red sandstone neo-gothic palace which sits proudly on the city’s skyline. Following a dramatic three-year refurbishment, completed in December 2011, the Gallery now offers 17 new displays. Each of these explores different aspects of the story of Scotland and her people, told through a wealth of imagery including portraits of famous historical figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots, Prince Charles Edward Stuart and Robert Burns, through to more recent pioneers in science, sport and the arts.

See these fantastic new exhibitions in beautifully refurbished spaces, from the suite of grand top-lit galleries to smaller intimate rooms, and discover the new Photography Gallery, the interactive Touchscreen Gallery and the atmospheric Victorian Library. The displays change on a regular basis, so there is always something new to see.

The Building

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson as a shrine for Scotland’s heroes and heroines. It opened to the public in 1889 as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery. An elaborate Arts and Crafts decorative scheme, both inside and out, with its glittering friezes, evocative murals and extensive sculptural embellishment, makes it a very special visitor experience.

Find out more about the building’s fascinating history and architecture

The Collection

The Portrait Gallery’s collection is an exceptional national resource of over 30,000 fascinating images incorporating a rich variety of media and including many internationally outstanding works of art. The portraits depict the men and women whose lives and achievements helped shape Scotland and the wider world. The Gallery is also home to the NGS’s outstanding collection of photographs which includes around 6,000 works by the early Scottish pioneers of the medium, Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill as well as new works by leading-edge contemporary photographers.

Visitor Facilities

The new Portrait Gallery café serves a delicious menu of fresh dishes and classic recipes, using the very best local ingredients and seasonal produce. Our new shop offers a fresh twist on design-led gifts and souvenirs. The Gallery now has all the modern facilities which today’s visitors expect, including a fantastic new lift, an Education suite and disabled access throughout the building.